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Phillips Boarding School Interview Questions

What interview questions do they ask you when applying to Phillips Academy Andover? Exeter?

After obtaining your top SSAT score with our help, you obviously need to hammer out all the other elements of your application to the top boarding schools.  One of the most nerve wracking exercises in the process can be the interview.  Since we help students get over the anxiety and prepare them effectively as a bonus to our services prepping them for the exam, we know many of the questions they will encounter.  So, we thought we would share a good number of them here.

And if you didn’t notice, we even include at the beginning what the folks at Andover say in a YouTube video.

Nevertheless, let’s address some of the questions prospective students are very interested in learning before they set their time with the admissions team:

What are the most asked interview questions in Phillips Andover or Exeter?

In addition to our past students who have shared, we have found many questions that former alum have said including:

  • What books do you like to read, recent books read, etc.?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What did you like most about the tour?
  • Why Andover? Exeter?
  • What subjects in school do you like the most?
  • How would your siblings describe you?
  • What did you do in the summer?
  • Have you experienced any setback or hardship?
  • How did you deal with it?

There are many more questions (and some of these are the same, but different worded versions of the above):

  • If you’re being homeschooled, “What do you do with the free time you have?” or “Why did you apply to a boarding school instead of continuing your homeschooling?”
  • What do you do outside of school?
  • Describe your family.
  • What was your proudest moment?
  • How would your teachers or peers describe you?
  • What would you do in a full year to pursue any educational opportunity?  Why?
  • What’s your biggest success/failure to date?
  • What have you done that you’re most proud of?
  • How has your current school defined you?
  • Do you think your friends have influenced you in any major way?
  • How would you contribute to Phillips?
  • What makes you, as an applicant, stand out?
  • What activities do you do outside of school?
  • What are some of your hobbies? (i.e. Sports, the arts, community service, etc.)
  • What are some of your strengths and weakness’ academically?
  • What do you want in a boarding school and what do you hope to get out of coming to a boarding school?

Topics covered in the interviews:

  • recent books read
  • favorite subject(s)
  • extra-curriculars
  • why do you want to come here
  • why us

Questions specific to Exeter:

  • Do they talk about Ferguson at your school?  What’s your opinion?
  • Have you ever cheated? Is cheating wrong?
  • What would your tombstone say?
  • What other schools have you applied to?
  • How do your parents feel about you applying?
  • What are your grades like?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What sports do you play?
  • Topics covered: general, family, interests, background & are you applying to Andover? why?

In case you might be applying to the many other top boarding school options, here are a few other top boarding schools and their questions:

Questions specific to Groton:

  • Do you play a sport?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What’s important to you?
  • What stuck out to you when learning about us?
  • What is it about the school that strikes you?

Questions specific to Deerfield:

an answer from here.

“What did you do this summer?”
“Describe your after-school activities”
“What is your favorite and least favorite subject, and why?”
“Why would you like to attend ________?”

Questions specific to Choate:

  • Describe your family.

an answer from here.

2confuzzled- Interviews are more conversations than anything else. Don’t be afraid to be yourself! The admissions officers are all really nice, sweet people that want to get to know you (trust me, I’m quite good friends with many of them!). As for clothing during the interview, you’ll be taking your tour right before, so you definitely should wear something that you are comfortable to walk around in. Other than that, keep it professional, but you don’t need to be in a suit or anything like that. Don’t go out of your way to dress in a way that you typically don’t.

Answering another person’s question re: the interview –

An interview is like a conversation. Prepare for the interviewer to ask you tons of questions about yourself and why you want to go to Choate.

Students who succeed at Choate are ones who have a good balance between their academic and social lives. Some students are so focused on getting into an amazing college and getting good grades that they miss out on a huge part of the boarding school experience. Some students socialize too much and don’t get good grades. If you find the happy balance, you’re golden.

The number of PGs really varies from year to year. It depends on how many kids leave the grade the previous year. Last year there were maybe 20 or so; this year there are around 30 I think.

I kind of half assed this (sorry!); I’m not feeling too well and I’m watching tv at the same time lol. If you have more questions regarding PG admissions, feel free to PM me.

Quizlet lists for Top Boarding School Questions:

General advice for interviewing at Top Boarding Schools:

  • Give thoughtful answers and not just “yes.”
  • If you’re applying to Andover, learn what “Non Sibi” means and how it applies to your life.  You should probably embrace the concept since it’s one of their guiding principals at the school.
  • If you’re applying to the others, learn what guides them as well and be comfortable enough to tackle questions related to it.
  • Make sure you know your books.  Make sure you appear to be a reader, even if you aren’t.  And make sure you start to read voraciously.  If you don’t or fail to understand you’ll be doing a significant amount moving forward, you better stop now and decide on other schooling options.  We’ll assume you do read.  Well,  you had better know who wrote the book and you had better also know “specifics” from the novels or other texts you will be discussing.  Ideally, the works are challenging and unique.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk a LOT (we say “significantly”)
  • Take control over the conversation despite the interviewer being the one who is initially in control.
  • Be prepared to have your own questions at the end of the interview.
  • From a student who called themself “andoveraccepted” in college confidential, they said:

HI! I know I’m really late to this, but as a student at PA I think I can help you understand the interview process. First off, the interviewer wants to determine if and why you want to attend Andover. If you are a boarding student, he or she will ask about the challenges you may face being away from home (time management, homesickness, etc.) Then, they will ask you about your school, friends, and family!

What is it like to interview at Andover?

If you didn’t click into the video we shared at the beginning, they try to share it there along with their page on the website here.  Please scroll above to get to the video.  Once you’re done, the second part of the video from Andover is here:

How to prepare for an interview at Phillips Academy

You have many options, but here are some that we suggest:

  • Book some time with Brandon — he’s quite good from what we hear.  Seriously, you can talk to his past students and see what he’s done to prepare students for this part of the process that shouldn’t be as scary as some think it is
  • Prepare some answers to the many questions we’ve shared.  However, make sure your answer is completely yours and truthful.  We know you are thinking there is an “ideal answer” to everything that you share with the folks at Phillips or other top boarding school.  And there is.  It’s your authentic, real thought out belief in whatever you feel is the answer, but maybe mixed in it are some of the things Brandon can share with you or what you learn are ideal in proving you are the “right candidate.”
  • So, this means obviously doing your homework.  Don’t speak in generalities.  Speak in specifics.  Give personal anecdotes that are meaningful.  Your interviewer will relate if it comes from the heart.
  • Reduce the simple language you’re used to.  Don’t say “a lot.”  Say “significantly.”  Use the SSAT vocabulary you’ve been studying or sections of the reading from your vigorous reading you’ve been doing.
  • Relax.  It’s a conversation.  The interviewer knows how you feel.  You’re a kid.  There are so many things that you don’t realize that are at play that the older individual who’s “grilling you” is doing.  They’re not “grilling you” for one, but they’re just asking questions like “How do you get to city hall?”  The questions are a bit more focused around education and you, but they are still basic questions.  Treat them as such.  Nevertheless, it’s really about just having a chat with an administrator and the more relaxed and enjoyable you make it, the better it is for both sides.
  • Do the regular things you should do to appear “professional” and an ideal student.  These people aren’t examining every little minute detail.  At the same time, make sure you’re dressed for the occasion.  Show up on time.  Make sure you’ve done all the stuff we’ve already shared like doing your homework.  Maybe even take notes during the tour.  Ask lots of questions from the moment you get onto campus to the minute you walk into the interview.  Pay attention. Don’t play with your phone.  Leave your phone with your parents, if possible.  Confirm the interview time early.  Enough said.

Some very specific tips from previous students that can’t be rolled into the lists and advice in the aforementioned:

Andover is EXTREMELY nice. If you get Mrs. Mallick, you will love her. She can’t stop laughing, she’s so kind. Her children are sooooo cute.
Make sure you see the library, the theater, the science center, and the athletic centers. All of those are extremely nice.
Try to see the town, too. I got to see kids my age doing Bio homework on a Saturday morning in Starbucks. It was like bird-watching. haha
They’ll ask the typical, why do you want to go? She also asked me how important education is to my family, and seemed impressed that the majority of family are in education fields.
They may ask other random questions that might not seem important, but really think!


From the same source:

omg!! I got Ms. Mallick, and yes, she couldn’t stop laughing!! She put me completely at ease, and I loved her, although my mom thought she was a bit too relaxed…

Another piece of advice from the same source:

dont stress about interviews too much. I give tours at my school and all the kids going for their interviews look so nervous. Calm down, it is only a part of the application process. Ive talked to my friends and some of them say they interviewed in jeans and t-shirts and still got in. It doesnt matter what you wear the interview is more or less who you are. Personality matters more than what you wear, just be super friendly and super nice, and do not be afraid to be yourself admissions officers love kids who are different and open. For the interviews, most boys dress in khakis with a nice shirt and tie, and girls most wear skirts or dress pants. but remember even if you look really nice but dont have any personality, then you probably wont stand out.

The source for some of the Exeter specific questions above is here.

and here’s some tips from a mom of an Exeter interviewee:

buy an iced drink (sorry, couldn’t resist given your name). Probably the cafe wil like it better if you both buy something, so a drink is fine. Avoid sticky messy food.

Suggest dressing in something clean and well-fitting, but not too formal. A polo or sweater and nice khakis for a guy, and a skirt or slacks and a shirt or sweater for girls. You want to show respect for the interviewer but this is not a school visit (when boys need a tie). However, you wouldn’t be wrong with a shirt and tie if you are male.

Be prepared to explain in detail why you are a good fit for Exeter. Comb the website, read the materials they sent you. Do you like the math pedagogy, Harkness, the classics diploma, advanced science, certain sports, theatre, non sibi? How will you contribute to the community? Be ready to discuss a book you have read, or a challenge you have faced and how you overcame it. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Demonstrate knowledge of Exeter, and show passion about one or several of your interests. Ask questions like advice on adjusting to boarding, the best part the alumnus/a recalls from their experience at Exeter, or similar.


Many other tips and things that can help you prep are here.

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